As an editor of a website designed to create content for your users you have a tough job. Not only do you need to create content that the user will love and share with their audience, you also have to make sure it is as Search Engine friendly as possible. Sometimes these two seem like very different things whereas as long as a thoughtful process is taken you can meet both needs in one go. This gives the user what they want and ensures the article has the best start in life in the Search Results.
In this post you’ll get some tips on how to leverage your content to its fullest potential for search. We’ll focus on how to do this in WordPress however if you’re using another CMS the theory is the same and can be adjusted to suit.
Content and Keyword Research
Usually you have a topic or title already chosen however this doesn’t mean you can’t do a little research on the best terms to include in the body copy, title and description. A great tool for this is SEMRush! You put in a term or phrase that is relevant to the article and it will show you the average number of searches per month and a few different phrases that are related and can be used in the content too.
It might help form the content or it might just help to verify that you’re writing about something of use to your audience.
When you’ve worked out the term you’re targeting you should then add it into the Focus Keyword box in the Yoast plugin mentioned below. You can add multiple Focus Keywords in so you can split the focus across several relevant terms.
First off, the best WordPress (WP) plugin out there for managing an articles Title and Meta Description is Yoast. The free version is ideal and it will do everything you need it to do.
Why’s it so good? Well it doesn’t need an intimate knowledge of SEO for it to do it’s job properly and all you need to do is fill in the boxes, after a little research of course.
As you can see from the image above, when creating the page title in the first instance, if one is missing the tool will assume the same title as used in the post. It will then show with the coloured line whether or not the assumed title is ok for length. It’s usually best practice to change up the page title a little in order to ‘Sell the Click’ to the user in search whilst remaining relevant.
As you’ll see, if you decide to change the title from the assumed one the coloured bar will turn orange and move as you add more characters. Once in the green, the title is not too long or short, if you continue to add characters it will turn orange once more. This denotes that its too long.
Other Title Best Practices:
- The title should include the main target term of the article or close synonym
- Include the brand name where possible
- Change it up slightly from the On-Page title of the article
In the Meta Description box all you need to do is add in a catchy, interesting and relevant snippet that sells the click in search results to the user. This is an indirect SEO element in that it will not directly increase rankings but by improving the Click Through Rate (CTR) of the pages it helps to improve the rankings of it. As with the title box on the tool you get the nice colour bar to let you know if you’ve written something too long.
Other Meta Best Practices:
- Include the main terms of the article
- Add a Call to Action like ‘Read More’ etc
- Look at competing articles to see what they have, then better it
Social Media Snippets
The SEO Meta Description is the way you sell your click in the search results however, on Social Media character lengths and language styles are different. In order to maximise your articles value on Social Media the Yoast plugin allows you to add a different description for Facebook and Twitter to the SEO Meta Description.
Due to the ideal social feed image sizes being different too, you can also upload a different one per platform, great stuff! To find out about the ideal image sizes you can look here.
This is a lot simpler to handle on all articles and doesn’t require a lot of time or effort. With images there are two things to consider:
1 – Image size (Mb)
2 – Image Relevance
It’s likely that the site will have an image compression tool already installed however a quick run through another tool won’t hurt. The smaller the image size is without ruining the image quality the better. The smaller it is, the less data needs to be sent to the reader and this improves load time.
Essentially, Google is a robot and as such it cannot see what an image in an article is of. To help the robot along the it’s important to give it as many opportunities to understand what it is as possible. Make sure the image file name is something relevant, add a title and an Alt Text too.
As with all the above Internal Links are supposed to be included in content for both the reader and the search engine.
For the Reader
Adding relevant internal links that point to other articles or resources that are helpful to the reader is going to help them better understand the article or discover new content. This keeps them engaged and more likely to come back for more later down the line.
For the Search Engine
Internal linking for the search engine needs to consider a few things:
1 – Is it good for the user?
2 – Does it help cultivate a relevant internal network of linked pages?
3 – Does it look unnatural or spammy?
Deeper on these are the following thoughts:
1 – If you’re asking yourself this when thinking about adding a link, it probably isn’t!
2 – Linking relevant pages together helps the search engine to understand how content is connected and it helps to rank pages accordingly.
3 – Are you putting in a few links per paragraph? Does it look a little unnatural? If the answer is yes then it’s worth cutting back.